Dog agility is an extremely fun and popular sport for dogs and their owners. It’s a great way for you and your pup to be active and work on growing your bond together. But many aren’t sure if Agility is right for them because they’re not sure of the costs involved with it.
So is dog agility expensive to participate in? The cost of basic Agility training classes is similar to the cost of normal obedience training. Expect to pay $125 to $200 for a 6-session Agility course. As you get more serious with the sport, the expenses can increase as you train more frequently, begin competing and even begin purchasing your own equipment.
Cost of Dog Agility – Things to Consider:
- Level of training
- What organization is offering the training
- Type of training equipment used (DIY or bought)
- Professional training or DIY Training
- Amount of training the dog requires
- Age and Breed of the dog
Let’s now take a more detailed look at some costs associated with participating in Agility. Keep in mind, not all costs apply to all situations.
Average Costs of Classes
The cost of agility classes can vary. The two things that play the biggest role in costs are the organization sponsoring the classes and the geographic location. Small communities generally charge less for training classes. Most dogs first go through basic obedience classes. Regardless of how much the dog knows about agility or how much the dog enjoys participating, the dog needs to be obedient and respond to its owner or handler.
Basic obedience classes are often six-week group classes with one 60 to 90 minute class per week. The cost of these can run from $125 to $200. Some professional trainers don’t run group sessions but work on an hourly basis and may charge a rate of $30 to $100 per hour. The owner chooses how many sessions he or she wants the dog to participate in.
Dog agility training usually begins after the dog has completed obedience or basic training. The cost of these will also vary based on the number of sessions or the level of training. However, the average cost for agility classes is around $150 for a 5 to 6-week class consisting of 1-hour sessions each week. As the dog moves on to advanced classes, the cost may increase as do the sessions. For instance, an advanced fundamentals class may consist of a ten-week session with one-hour classes per week and a cost of $175 per session.
Structure of How Classes Work
The classes are based on the dog’s age and level of training completed. Basic obedience training, which starts when the puppy is young, is always the first stage of the training. The first classes are to teach the puppy how to bond with the owner and listen to basic commands. This class might also be referred to as puppy agility. Once the puppy has successfully completed these classes, he or she is ready to advance to the actual agility classes.
The classes are as much for the handler as they are for the dog. The dog has to successfully pass one class before it can advance to the next. It’s not even so much “passing” the class as it is being ready to advance to the next class. Even if a dog successfully goes through all the hoops or barrels, he’s not successful until he can do it as quickly as possible since the agility events are based on both skill and speed.
Different Levels of Training & Focus of Each
Once the owner decides that he wants his dog to participate in dog agility, it’ll be determined what type of training the dog needs. The first training is always the basic obedience training, which should start when the dog is still a puppy. Dog agility classes each have a prerequisite, and basic obedience is the prerequisite for the first agility class and every one thereafter.
Although all the classes are referred to as agility classes, they’re not all actual agility classes. Many people mistakenly believe that each and every agility class will teach the dog better jumps and how to complete new obstacles. This is not the case. From the very first class, the focus remains the same.
- Strengthening the bond between dog and owner/handler
- Developing and increasing the dog’s confidence
- Increasing the dog’s play and work drive
- Building the dog’s desire to try new obstacles
Once the actual classes begin, they generally go in this order.
- Puppy Agility – This teaches the puppy to have confidence, listen to basic commands and be willing to try new things.
- Foundations – This class, designed to build the dog’s confidence, attention, play/drive balance and coordination, introduces the dog to ground level equipment and very low jumps.
- Beginner – This class builds on what was learned in the foundations. The dog and owner work on increasing distance and improving handling skills while becoming more familiar with weave poles.
- Intermediate –The dog earns advanced sequences while the owner develops advanced handling techniques. They work on discriminations, serpentines, threadles, crosses and distance work.
- Advanced Fundamentals –Students in this group are often starting in actual competitions. The main focus of this class is to build on the relationship between dog and owner and work on any problem areas.
- Masters Agility – This class offers advanced courses and techniques and focuses on creating a winning team. They try to set a situation similar to an actual agility trial.
- Skills & Drills – This class will offer alternative handling methods and encourage the owner to try to techniques. It includes training drills aimed at extending the dog and owner’s skill levels.
Low-Cost Ways to Train at Home
Many dog owners choose to train their dogs at home either to save money, avoid traveling or just for convenience. The dog may not get the exact same type and level of training it would get at a professional course, but at-home training can also be a great way to get the dog into agility in his or her own comfort zone. The owner will need to set up some obstacles.
DIY Agility Obstacle Examples
- Children’s collapsible play tunnels give dogs good experience going through tunnels. Or for a little more money, you can get an actual dog Agility tunnel, like this one.
- PVC piping makes ideal and inexpensive weave poles. Or you can buy this ready-made weave pole set (Amazon link).
- Old tires hung from a tree branch give the dog good training in jumping. No trees? Here’s an inexpensive jump ring on Amazon.
- Planks or bricks work great for letting pups step up and down.
- Homemade teeter boards bolted in the middle provide excellent exercise and help build confidence. If you’re serious about getting your puppy started with Agility, you might consider getting this pre-made teeter instead.
Requirements for Dog Agility Competitions
There are different types of agility competitions, with the biggest factor being what organization is putting on the competition. For instance, there are three types of agility competitions or “trials” offered by the AKC.
- All-breed agility – This is the most common trial, and it includes the more than 150 different breeds recognized by the AKC.
- Specialty agility – This is for a specific breed of dog or varieties of a specific breed. For instance, agility for poodles would include all varieties, such as toy, miniature, standard, etc.
- Group trials – This is for a specific breed group, such as working, retrieving or herding.
To be eligible to participate in AKC agility trials, the dog must meet the following requirements.
- Be at least 15 months of age (18 months of age for NADAC)
- Be current on vaccinations and in good health
- Registered with the AKC or the Canine Partners program
- Spayed or neutered dogs may also participate
Costs of Fees to Enter Competitions
As is the case with agility training, the cost of fees to enter competitions can vary depending on the level of completion, the organization offering the event and the geographic location. Here are some basic fees for agility events in different organizations.
- American Kennel Club – $25 per event; $20 for a second and third event; $15 for each additional event; plus a $3.00 AKC recording fee per event
- United Kennel Club – $20 (pre-entry) per event for the first event and $15 for each additional event; $25 per event if paid on the day of the event
- United States Dog Agility Association – Fees are based on event and range from $5 to $20 per event per dog
- North American Dog Agility Council – $20 to $25 for dog registration fee; $7 per event if pre-paid; $10 per event if paid on the day of the event
- Canine Performance Events, Inc. – $15 per event for standard classes; $14 for other classes
Organizations Offering Competitions
Dog agility competitions can be found in many canine facilities or AKC clubs. Often, businesses, such as dog kennels, groomers, boarders and trainers sponsor dog agility competitions for dog owners in their communities. Additionally, there are various sanctioned agility organizations that operate on a much larger scale.
- American Kennel Club
- United Kennel Club
- United States Dog Agility Association
- North American Dog Agility Council
- Canine Performance Events
When can I start my dog in agility training?
Dogs can and should begin their agility training while they’re still puppies with basic obedience being the first training the puppies receive. Since little puppies become distracted very easily, four months of age is a good age to begin training. When starting early, you’ll want your pup to avoid jumping since their growth plates aren’t fully closed until after 12-months. Starting jumps too early can cause long-term injury.
Does dog agility have an age limit?
Although organizations may have their own age requirements, dogs entering into AKC agility competitions must be at least 15 months old. There is no age at which they’re required to retire from the events.
What obstacles are there in Dog Agility?
Common Agility course obstacles include: Weave Poles, Tunnels (open and closed), Seesaw, Pause Table, Tire Jump, Broad Jump, and Dog Walk. Here’s a great graphic depicting each of these obstacles.
That Says it All!
People who have either participated or watched dog agility competitions have no trouble understanding why dog agility is one of the fastest-growing and popular dog sports in the nation. While there may be a cost for dog agility competitions, most owners find that the benefits and pleasure they and their dogs get more than makes it more than worth the expense!
Another attractive aspect of dog Agility is that it’s available to both purebred and mixed breed dogs of all different sizes. In an Agility competition, the dog must complete a course filled with various obstacles, all while being timed. The dog relies heavily on cues and body language from the handler to determine what to do and where to go next.